Featured author – Ian Roberts

ianToday Ian Roberts is my guest. He talks about writing and more. 🙂 Hi Ian, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. 

As a former English teacher are you a Grammar Nazi, or can you overlook the loose style of ‘talking’ on social media and in Twitterings? (I know it’s tweets, but that’s so … Not logical.) 

I think it depends on context, Lucy.  When writing narrative for a novel, yes I’m a bit of a fascist, for want of a better term, but dialogue should reflect a person’s background and education for the sake of credibility. With social media, each to his or her own, although I prefer correct English, which has so much to offer when we express ourselves.

What is your pet peeve when it comes to the use of language?

It irritates me when people use ‘bored of’ instead of ‘bored with’, and the word ‘Brit’ annoys me for some reason.

While travelling around have you ever been in a place you now would wish you lived? And why don’t you?

I miss the climate and ambience of California but would hate to be so far from family and friends if I lived there.  I almost did stay there, but things didn’t work out – a long story and perhaps one for another book.  Then again, maybe they wouldn’t let me back in! Crossing the Sahara desert twice, as a young man of twenty, was a life-changing and humbling experience, but I sure as hell wouldn’t want to live there.

Is there any food or beverage that is a constant factor in either your books or life?

I like whisky, and one of the main characters, who appears in two of my books has a predilection for Irish.  When he orders a drink, he always insists on ‘none of your Scottish muck, now’, which became a theme in the two books and part of his character and the humour.

What is your favourite dish and can you give me the recipe?

The best meal I ever ate was filet mignon with guacamole and tortillas, in a scruffy Mexican restaurant near the USA border.  All the food was cooked in and on an open stone oven and was delicious. I have no idea of the recipe, sadly.

What is the title of the book you would like to talk about, and can you give us a small taster of it?

It’s difficult to choose between my first book, Catch the Sun, cover catch sunand its sequel, The Colour of Mud at Night. cover MudThe first book was my ‘baby’, so to speak, but the sequel is much longer, with more scope and deals, in part, with World War One, which is something I’ve always been interested in, as well as military history in general.  Both my grandfathers, who I knew well, fought in France and Belgium, during 1914-1918, and I’ve visited the grave of my great grandfather, who was killed in that war, in Belgium.

Below you can read what Catch The Sun is about.

A story that will enrage you, touch your heart and stay with you.Crazed with fear, a boy sprints through the African bush. He is pursued by the men who have butchered his parents, and now they want to kill him. It is the beginning of his passage into manhood, which will see him experience the violent siege of Ladysmith, black-marketers and attempts on his life. Living on his wits, he is befriended by a British cavalry officer, Major George Stanley, whose life he saves and who will betray him.
From the slaughter of the South African Boer war of 1899-1902, to the snobbery of Edwardian England, where a decades-old secret leads to tragedy, Jan Willem develops from a naïve orphan into a resolute young man under the tutelage of Major Stanley and De Costa, the wily but educated poacher and former priest.
Faced with the scheming of Major Stanley’s adopted sons, and the cruelty of their mother, Jan Willem is expelled from an exclusive school, for striking a schoolmaster, but finds sanctuary, with De Costa, in the forests of the Major’s country estate. Learning from De Costa the art of poaching, Jan Willem makes an enemy of the vicious gamekeeper, Arthur Ennis, which will have fatal consequences.Building a home, for his wife and child, Jan Willem begins to escape the demons of his youth. But the shared and mysterious past of De Costa and Major Stanley, and the determination of the major’s sons to be rid of him, result in kidnap, murder and revenge.

Did you have difficulty coming up with the title?

No, both titles came to me quite easily. Half way through writing the first book, the title of Catch the Sun suddenly hit me through a conversation between the MC, when he was a child, and his mother, and I used the idea throughout the story when describing the MC’s longing for his murdered mother.  The Colour of Mud at Night was, again, a sudden inspiration and used to suggest the never-ending stench and presence of the filth and mud in the World War One trenches and no-man’s land.

What do you do marketing wise and what do you think generates the most attention to your books?

Of late, I haven’t done any marketing, but the best sales I’ve had followed a free promotion with KDP. I dislike marketing and am lazy in that respect. I’d prefer to be ‘discovered’, so do your best!

Would you be able to come up with a credible excuse why you haven’t written a whole day? Remember, I have to believe it!

Well, I could write another book on this – personal and domestic issues, trying to find a job, frustration with lack of sales, for a while, and trying to rectify errors and bad decisions I’ve made in my life. The urge to write is always there, but sometimes the ‘real’ world has priority, sadly.

Okay now that we have the mandatory questions out of the way, shoot your mouth off. Tell me whatever you want the blab about. But please no cats, dogs, or children. Make me laugh, or cry, or even envious. Tell me something none has ever heard before from you. He, he, he, love those little dirty secrets, real or make believe. 🙂

Hell, Lucy, do you want me sent to jail? Now, we really are talking about another book! When in California, I and some British friends smoked a certain substance for the first and only time: I jumped, fully clothed and giggling, into the Pacific Ocean.  Also, there was the time with a college pal that we decided that the dancers in a disco were too warm and sweaty. Being kind and considerate people, we used an industrial fire hose to ‘cool them down’ and blew up the DJ’s equipment in the process.  We were banned for life from the campus. Then there was the time on a rugby tour to Belgium, when the young men I was with decided not to pay the bill in a Greek restaurant.  They leaped over the table, leaving me behind. A Greek waiter wielding a machete pursued them, as I ducked into a doorway.  I spent half the night lost in the city of Bruges trying to find our hotel.  I may well still be on the ‘most wanted’ list of the Bruges police. I could write much more, but the prospect of a long sentence in solitary doesn’t appeal to me.

Hahaha, thanks for sharing this fun facts, and your books. I do hope readers will want to know more and post their questions for you below in the comments, because I know I have some more to ask. 🙂


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